Kraftwerk month #12 Autobhan oddities


I have to say that Kraftwerk’s incessant tinkering and airbrushing of their past isn’t much to my taste (especially the erasing of past members’ contributions) and is one of the reasons why most of the content I’m putting up here this month doesn’t go beyond ‘Tour De France’. I’m not a fan of ‘The Mix’, as I found that they’d ironed all the soul out of their music in reconstructing it for a real computer age. The irony of the men who wanted to sound like machines finally attaining their wish as technology caught up with them is that they lost the one thing that gave their music depth – the humanity.

Similarly the hand drawn, painted and coloured graphics and photography have been replaced by cold, dull cgi versions of their classic sleeves. The reduction of the ‘Radio-Activity’, ‘Trans Europe Express’ and ‘Man Machine’ sleeves to basic typography and logos may bring them into a neat line with the rest of the Catalogue but it does little for me aesthetically. The one example I will concede to however, (and this happened fairly quickly back in the 70’s), is the re-draughting of the ‘Autobahn’ sleeve. Above you can see the original with its dashboard and rear view mirror most definitely placing the sleeve in the early 70’s. The removal of the dashboard on later sleeves definitely makes for a better composition but the adoption of the UK sleeve, that centered on the white on blue motorway logo, gives it the jump from literal illustration to iconic status.

Above are different front and back sleeves for various 7″ singles utilising parts of the ‘Autobahn’ artwork and below are two CD booklet illustrations from the Catalogue remasters. I assume these are newly commissioned pieces in the style of the original cover  but the hyperreal colour does nothing for me.

…and a couple of late entries: Not official in any way but linked visually to the above designs, flyers for a club my friend Graeme Ross was involved in.

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